It is claimed by the Christian world that one of the great reasons for giving an inspired book to the Jews was, that through them the world might learn there is but one God. This piece of information has been supposed to be of infinite value. As a mater of fact, long before Moses was born, the Egyptians believed and taught that there was but one God that is to say, that above all intelligences there was the one Supreme. They were guilty, too, of the same inconsistencies of modern Christians. They thought the doctrine of the Trinity--God the Father. the Mother, and God the Son. God was frequently represented as father, mother and babe. They also taught that the soul had a divine origin; that after death it was to be judged according to the deeds done in the body; that those who had done well passed into perpetual joy, and those who had done evil into endless pain. In this they agreed with the most approved divine of the nineteenth century. Women were the equals of men, and Egypt was often governed by queens. In this, her government was vastly better than the one established by God. The laws were administered by courts much like ours. In Egypt there was a system of schools that gave the son of poverty a chance of advancement, and the highest offices were open to the successful scholar. The Egyptian married one wife. The wife was called "the lady of the house." The women were not secluded. The people were not divided into castes. There was nothing to prevent the rise of able and intelligent Egyptians. But like the Jehovah of the Jews, they made slaves of the captives of war.
The ancient Persians believed in one God; and women helped to found the Parsee religion. Nothing can exceed some of the maxims of Zoroaster. The Hindoos taught that above all, and over all, was one eternal Supreme. They had a code of laws. They understood the philosophy of evidence and of damages. They knew better than to teach the doctrine of an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. They knew that when one man maimed another, it was not to the interest of society to have that man maimed, thus burdening the people with two cripples, but that it was better to make the man who maimed the other work to support him. In India, upon the death of a father, the daughters received twice as much from the estate as the sons.
The Romans built temples to Truth, Faith, Valor, Concord, Modesty, and Charity, in which they offered sacrifices to the highest conceptions of human excellence. Women had rights; they presided in the temple; they officiated in holy offices; they guarded the sacred fires upon which the safety of Rome depended; and when Christ came, the grandest figure in the known world was the Roman mother.
It will not do to say that some rude statue was made by an inspired sculptor, and that the Apollo of Belvidere, Venus de Milo, and the Gladiator were made by unaided men; that the daubs of the early ages were painted by divine assistance, while the Raphaels, the Angelos, and the Rembrandts did what they did without the help of heaven. It will not do to say, that the first hut was built by God, and the last palace by degraded man; that the hoarse songs of the savage tribes were made by the Deity, but that Hamlet and Lear were written by man; that the pipes of Pan were invented in heaven, and all other musical instruments on the earth.
If the Jehovah of the Jews had taken upon himself flesh, and dwelt as a man among the people he endeavored to govern, had he followed his own teachings, he would have been a slave-holder, a buyer of babes, and a beater of women. He would have waged wars of extermination. He would have killed grey-haired and trembling age, and would have sheathed his sword, in prattling, dimpled babes. He would have been a polygamist, and would have butchered his wife for differing with him on the subject of religion.